Here’s Robert Glasper doing Radiohead’s “Packt Like Sardines In A Crushd Tin Box”:
(bonus fact: Glasper is from Houston and went to HSPVA.)
Here’s Robert Glasper doing Radiohead’s “Packt Like Sardines In A Crushd Tin Box”:
(bonus fact: Glasper is from Houston and went to HSPVA.)
Lord knows I’m mostly out of patience for boomer-era culture, but there’s absolutely nothing deniable about the Stones in their heyday.
This is the first performance of “Sympathy for the Devil,” from 1968 concert film “The Rolling Stones’ Rock and Roll Circus,” so they’re basically at their peak. It’s also the last performance (apparently) with Brian Jones, who’d be ejected from the band — and planet Earth — within a year.
Watch for John Lennon dancing at about 5 minutes. ;)
And it’s all Billie Eilish’s fault.
My friend Andrew penned the Chronicle coverage:
Billy Joe Shaver — a honky-tonk hero so original he coined the phrase “honky-tonk hero” — has died of a stroke. He was 81.
Shaver was without question one of the greatest songwriters Texas produced, which made him among the best in the larger field of music. He mined his life for songs about drifting and dabbling, all manner of ill-advised behaviors that seemed certain to put him in the grave before age 81. “The devil made me do it the first time,” he sang in “Black Rose,” a song about visiting a brothel. “Second time I done it on my own.”
His lyrical sensibility had a natural quality that defied all training and logic. He wrote like he spoke, and it nevertheless came out as poetry. That style endeared him to some of the biggest country music stars of the 1970s. While Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson were the face of what became known as Outlaw country in the 1970s, Shaver didn’t enjoy the same spoils of success as those two men. There was no golfing to fill Billy Joe Shaver’s time.
Whether at a gig or between shows, he ambled around in the same denim shirt and jeans — songwriter Todd Snider called him “the Man in Blue” — hair wild and squinting eyes gleaming with notions of pending trouble. He endured the death of his wife and his son, a heart attack and a quadruple bypass and a broken back. He was acquitted for shooting a man in the face.
A few years back, I was talking with some friends over drinks about whether or not my then-20+ year tenure in Texas has naturalized me to “true Texan” status. The natives were unsure about it — until I told them this:
I’ve shaken Billy Joe Shaver’s hand in Gruene Hall.
I’ll hang my hat on that. Godspeed, Billy Joe.
American Songwriter has this great feature up covering their favorite 8 songs from his first ten years — which is to say, before the personal and artistic collaboration with Brennan.
Well worth your time.
Stevie has the means. Enjoy.
It’s from April, but this long profile in the New York Times (!!) is worth your time.
Nick Cave’s October show in Austin? Dead due to COVID.
I’ll be up front and say that I do not love The National like this author, but I am entirely familiar with the sort of distracting and potentially unseemly love one may develop for a band that hits you where you live at just the right moment. Feeling that way about music is a magical gift; it opens doors to friendships and relationships and experiences that are inaccessible any other way.
So yeah, even if The National — whom I do enjoy — have never been that band for ME, I absolutely understand what Helena Fitzgerald is talking about here.
Oh, and while you’re at it? Here’s a great interview with frontman Matt Berninger you may enjoy, too.
And I’m listening to The National a bit more, anyway. Hey, nothing but time, right?
Zelda Perkins met her hero. It was awesome.
It’s come to my attention — via the ever-reliable Jon Frazer D — that Uncle Tupelo’s barn-burner of a debut album No Depression was released 30 years ago this year.
In commemoration of said anniversary, please enjoy this YouTube of “Whiskey Bottle;” it’s not a video per se, but it does include a whole lot of contemporary snapshots of the band from those long-ago days.
Rob Scallon has the video. Don’t miss this. It’s long (22m), but make time. C’mon, you’re under quarantine — you’ve got time.
Don’t miss this. There’s also video of her soundchecking “Nothing Compares 2 U,” and zomg her voice is still there.
Bob Dylan has taken this moment in time to write a 17 minutes song about the Kennedy assassination.
The boomer jokes just write themselves.
38 years ago, Prince played Houston on the Purple Rain tour. Here’s 1999 from that show. Fun fact: the venue in question (“The Summit,” which was where the Rockets played at the time) is now Joel Osteen’s church.
An Oral History of the Super Bowl XLI Halftime Show, ie, “Prince wants to know if you can make it rain harder.”
This engaging memoir piece that originally ran in Texas Monthly is really worth your time.
So, the insanely talented bandleader on James Corden’s Late Late Show is a guy named Reggie Watts. Astute readers of Heathen should note that the first mention here of Watts or his output is actually in the long-ago era of 2002, when I hipped you all to Watts’ prior band Maktub; here’s a YouTube clip of one of their songs.
Somewhere along the line, Watts pivoted to comedy; you can see he’s there already in his 2012 TED talk, which I just saw (again) on a “best of 2010s” list, and so here we are.
This excellent performance of Bowie’s “Five Years” by the Cowboy Junkies is worth your time.
But if you haven’t seen them in a long while, you may — as I was — be taken aback by Margo’s white hair. You shouldn’t; Timmons was born in 1961, just like plenty of the musical idols of our shared youth (I mean, she’s younger than all the members of R.E.M., for example).
The Trinity Session is, of course, over 30 years old now.
And then there’s this: Have you looked in the mirror lately? Odds are, you’re getting older, too.
Ric Ocasek, of course, has died. He was 75.
His age is only one of the several surprising things I learned about him in the wake of his passing. The Cars were an earlier, more established band than most of what I listened to growing up, so I understand they’re likely to be older (ie, born in the 1940s, like the members of Blondie, not the 1950s or 60s, like bands that hit in the mid-80s), but still: Ric Ocasek was 75? I mean, damn; that puts him in the same age cohort as folks who hit in the early 60s, like the Stones. (Benjamin Orr, who died of cancer in 2000, was only a little younger (b. 1947).)
The second surprising thing is this: though estranged for about a year or so, he and Paulina Porizkova were still married. Rock musicians and supermodels aren’t the sort of folks you think of when you say “thirty year marriage,” but here we are.
Finally, I found this morning that the song I most wanted to see — well, the video I most wanted to see — was “Magic” from 1984’s Heartbeat City. You know it: it’s the one where Ocasek appears to walk on water in a fancy swimming pool behind an even fancier home.
Here’s the fun part: That house is the west coast family home for Richard and Kathy Hilton, i.e. Paris’ parents. Paris, born in 1981, would’ve been about 3 when they shot this video.
Sinead O’Connor performs Nothing Compares 2 U on the Irish Late Late Show.
We all owe her a tremendous apology. She’s clearly fought no end of personal demons, but holy Jesus can she still sing.
“Hey, how about we play a guitar through 319 effects pedals at once?”
It’s probably time to remind you of the glory that is Hurra Torpedo’s rendition of “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, from way back in 2005.
It’s still my favorite version of the song.
This is a really great piece on Phish from an outsider’s perspective.
So I went to a Phish show. It was a big deal, not because I love Phish, but because my partner Leah loves them, and I emphatically do not. In our nearly 14 years together, this hasn’t been a problem (apart from the time she tried to make the case that a band I like is similar to Phish, and I, uh, did not respond well), but after I reluctantly agreed to finally go to a show with her, it started to feel increasingly consequential: If ever an event could shatter any notion of our fundamental compatibility, it would be this one. And ending a long-term relationship surrounded by 25,000 people whose collective drug haze effectively constitutes its own microclimate seemed less than ideal. So I decided to do everything I could to approach the live Phish experience as gracefully as possible.
Phish culture’s preppie-infused hippie essence is equally off-putting. Maybe it’s because punk happened; or because we’ve internalized the war on drugs; or because Don Henley saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac; or because Phish’s music generally has no discernible message; or because it all seems so anachronistic and naive and lazily escapist. Whatever the reason, ingesting an assortment of psychedelics and blissfully writhing along with a 30-minute Trey Anastasio guitar solo while wearing a donut-patterned beach towel as a cape is the kind of behavior that might make you more enemies than friends.
And (my favorite):
This was the baggage I brought with me to Camden, New Jersey’s BB&T Pavilion, where we set up a blanket on the lawn about 20 minutes before showtime. There were six of us: three fans and three non-fans, which sounds like a nice even split until you remember that my two pseudo-anthropologist compatriots and I were actually outnumbered by about 8,000 to one. And let me tell you, those many thousands of Phishheads were very, very happy to be there. When the first few notes of the poetically named “Mike’s Song” kicked off the show, the crowd reacted as if Prince had returned from the dead and announced he’d be producing new episodes of The Wire.
Reader, I lol’d. (Emph. added.)
Brass Against and Maya Azucena wail on this cover of Janes Addiction’s Mountain Song. Play it loud.
Also and forever ago, here’s a disconcertingly joyful rendition of Love Will Tear Us Apart from New Orleans’ own Hot 8 Brass Band. It’s on your favorite music service, too, so you can easily give ‘m some love. I did.
Someone has Kickstartered a Bluetooth-enabled cassette player.
WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK? Cassettes are BULLSHIT. Trust me. I’m GenX. I know things.
This might be the best one-song TV performance I’ve ever seen, and it’s 40 years old now. I’m having trouble nailing down the date, but there’s a graphic for Unknown Pleasures behind them; that album was recorded in April of 1979, and behind it they played twice on British television: in July of 79, on Granada TV, and soon after that on BBC2’s Something Else.
They’d release Transmission as a stand-alone, non-album single the following November, seemingly poised for larger success. And then, of course, Ian Curtis would take his own life in May of the following year, at 23.
Ladies and gentlemen, Thomas Benjamin Wild, Esq.
Longtime Heathen know our fondness for Mr Waits; this excellent retrospective of his early work — from his debut with Closing Time in 1973 through 1980’s Heartattack and Vine — traces his progression from neo-tin-pan-alley to the much more experimental artist he would eventually become.
After 1980, he would leave Asylum records and begin his collaboration (and marriage) with Kathleen Brennan; the changes were stark when Island Records released Swordfishtrombones three years later. (That’s the album, of course, which features “Johnsburg, Illinois,” about his new wife’s birthplace.)
This is a surprising story, and not just because the Eels are involved. Seriously. Make time.
No, seriously. SFW.
When I see interesting things on Twitter I don’t have time for right away, I email the tweet to myself. Generally what happens then is I forget completely about it in my inbox, since I’m a proud practitioner of Inbox 9,028.
I was just reviewing some of those, and I found a tweet from @ParkerMolloy saying “This is the weirdest music video I’ve seen in a while” with a Youtube link.
Parker is not wrong. Stay with it until AT LEAST 2:00. Longer is better. Plus, it’s catchy.
Definitely NSFW, however. Also, trigger warning for puppet sex — which, I think, is a first for Heathen. Go us.
Exhibit A, the 1980 video for Dire Straits’ “Romeo and Juliet” — a great song, to be sure:
Too bad about that video, because HOLY CRAP it’s kind of amazing this effort didn’t kill the whole notion of music videos in its crib. After about the 5th or 6th time I realized the shot was directly and literally mirroring the lyrics, I started making notes. Follow along if you dare.
He has a new record coming out. Here is a great, wide-ranging interview with him that includes a number of embedded videos, so you can sample his work.
He’s playing in Austin on 28 October. I plan to be there. You should give it some thought as well.
This is pretty great.
The film was shot just a tiny bit before grunge really exploded nationwide. 1991 was kinda ground zero for grunge releases — Nevermind, obviously, but also Mudhoney’s Every Good Boy record, Pearl Jam’s Ten, Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger, the Temple of the Dog one-off, and others. Alice in Chains’ Dirt came out the next year. But, critically, when they were shooting this film, none of those records were out or successful. Pearl Jam wasn’t even Pearl Jam yet; they’d only just brought in Eddie, and were still called “Mookie Blaylock”.
So anyway: Seattle wasn’t SEATTLE yet, and none of those people were particularly famous. Crowe, living in Seattle and married to a local, was falling in love with the growing scene, which is where the film came from. People who became huge months later appear in the film in tiny parts — Jeff Ament is in Matt Dillon’s band, for example. Alice in Chains and Soundgarden are bands playing in bars. And, as you’ll read in the interview, these folks hung around the production, even when they weren’t working — including Cornell.
Anyway. As part of the arc of the film, Dillon’s character Cliff Poncier loses his girl, his band and goes solo, and as was the custom of the time makes a solo tape to hawk while busking. It was just a prop, but Ament actually designed it, right down to (fictional) song titles and whatnot.
And then something interesting happened; Crowe tells it:
It’s kind of amazing. The idea was that Matt Dillon’s character, Cliff Poncier, in the course of the movie, he loses his band, and he loses his girlfriend, and he gains soul. So, there’s a period where he’s on a street corner busking, having lost his band, but beginning his solo career. And there would be, in reality, these guys standing on the corner outside the clubs in Seattle hawking their solo cassettes. So we wanted Cliff Poncier to have his own solo cassette. And Jeff Ament, in classic style, designed this cassette cover and wrote out these fictitious song names for the cassette.
And Chris Cornell was another guy who was close to us when we were making the record, and still is a good friend. I really loved Soundgarden; they were my favorite band. I originally thought Chris could play the lead, but then I think that turned into too big of a commitment for everybody and so he became the guy he is in the movie, but in the course of making the movie he was close to all of us. He was always around.
Anyway, Jeff Ament had designed this solo cassette which we thought was hilarious because it had all of these cool song titles like “Flutter Girl,” and “Spoonman,” and just like a really true-type “I’ve lost my band, and now I’m a soulful guy – these are my songs now” feeling. So we loved that Jeff had played out the fictitious life of Cliff Poncier. And one night, I stayed home, and Nancy, we were then married, she went out to a club, and she came back home, and she said, “Man, I met this guy, and he was selling solo cassettes, and so I got one for you.” And she hands me the Cliff Poncier cassette. And I was like, “That’s funny, haha.” And then she said, “You should listen to it.” So I put on the cassette. And holy shit, this is Chris Cornell, as Cliff Poncier, recording all of these songs, with lyrics, and total creative vision, and he has recorded the entire fake, solo cassette. And it’s fantastic. And “Seasons” comes on. And you just can’t help but go, “Wow.” This is a guy who we’ve only known in Soundgarden. And of course he’s incredibly creative, but who’s heard him like this? And we got to use “Seasons” on the soundtrack, and Chris did some of the score.
How neat is that?
From the WaPo’s “After Chris Cornell’s death: ‘Only Eddie Vedder is left. Let that sink in.’“, we find this:
Cornell hanged himself in a Detroit hotel room after performing what would become his final show with his band, which he closed by playing “In My Time of Dying” by Led Zeppelin.
Also, yeah, someone please make sure Eddie is okay.
Here’s the Tedeschi Trucks Band with Sharon Jones playing “Tell Mama” live in Vegas from June, 2015.
Here’s 70 minutes of the drum fill from “In The Air Tonight”, except it’s tripled, and one is played 0.1% faster, and one is played 0.1% slower.
I had, until today, somehow escaped knowing that Joe Scarborough also (a) went to UA (class of 1985, according to Wikipedia) and (b) is an R.E.M. fan.
This particular fact came to my attention because of this tweet,
Vinyl Solution (singular, Joe, not plural) is gone now, but when I was in Tuscaloosa (summer ’87, and then ’88-’94), VS was the place to go for new music. There were chain stores (including a Turtle’s, back when they gave out stamps), but VS was place to be. I bought my first Dylan there, my first Velvet Underground, and my copy of the #1 Record/Radio City combo disk from the owner’s favorite band, Big Star. On my infrequent visits back after leaving, I still made a point of dropping in and buying something. When George closed it to retire, it was like my youth shutting its doors, but, you know, sic transit gloria mundi.
But now I am, and you will be, too, as soon as you scroll to the bottom of this feature and see what Roy Haynes is wearing.
Go read this recollection of a teenage girl in California, her little brother, and their first R.E.M. show in 1985.
In the 80s, I kept the tape in the car, unless I needed inside. When I started replacing tapes with CDs, a bonus was that I could keep the CD in the house and the cassette in the car, so I had it everywhere. In the MP3 era, it’s always been on my phone for easy access anywhere. And, obviously, as I write this, it’s playing in my office using technology that was science fiction at its release three decades ago.
A few fine quotes about Hamiltons’ pal John Laurens:
[Laurens] became close friends with his fellow aides-de-camp, Alexander Hamilton and the General Marquis de Lafayette. He showed reckless courage at the battles of Brandywine, Germantown in which he was wounded, and Monmouth, where his horse was shot out from under him. After the battle of Brandywine, Lafayette observed that, “It was not his fault that he was not killed or wounded … he did every thing that was necessary to procure one or the other.”
Unfortunately, his luck ran out at the 1782 Battle of the Combahee River in South Carolina, when he was only 27. Washington said
In a word, he had not a fault that I ever could discover, unless intrepidity bordering upon rashness could come under that denomination; and to this he was excited by the purest motives.
And, of course, from Hamilton himself:
I feel the deepest affliction at the news we have just received at the loss of our dear and inestimable friend Laurens. His career of virtue is at end. How strangely are human affairs conducted, that so many excellent qualities could not ensure a more happy fate! The world will feel the loss of a man who has left few like him behind; and America, of a citizen whose heart realized that patriotism of which others only talk. I feel the loss of a friend whom I truly and most tenderly loved, and one of a very small number.
John Laurens is buried in land that is now a Trappist monastery (Mepkin Abbey) in Moncks Corner, South Carolina.
(Laurens was the only of Hamilton’s crowd to die before he did. Hercules Mulligan died in his eighties, and is buried at Trinity Church, which is also where you’ll find Hamilton’s tomb. Lafayette died at 76; he’s interred in Paris, covered in small part by soil brought over from Bunker Hill. An American flag always flies over his grave.)